The Vikings – Episode 6: Burial of the Dead
Happy new week fair maidens and lords! Today is a special day, as something we have all been waiting for weeks to happen, has finally happened. No not the new episode of Doctor Who, that was Saturday, and you better believe I watched that too. I am speaking of the showdown that has been brewing for the past 5 weeks. Tonight…..we witnessed the long awaited confrontation of our hero Ragnar Lothbrok and the dastardly Earl Haraldson. It has been a long time coming folks, and we got to see what happens when two beasts go to war. Let’s take a look shall we? Yes…we shall. For Odin!
At the end of last week’s episode, we see Ragnar requesting a favor of Floki to journey and meet with the Earl and challenge him to one on one combat. For those of you who do not know, this is a huge problem resolution tactic in Viking times. If someone was giving you a hard time, or as I like to call it… Smart Mouth…. you would settle it in a very direct way…through combat. It is one of the only permanent ways to settle an issue, and they make use of it to great effect. Floki makes it to town, and in a fashion only he can provide, challenges the Earl on behalf of Ragnar. The Earl, not wanting to waste his time, originally declines the challenge. His bearded and bald follower, or as I like to call him, Iago, lets everyone know that he has declined. Floki, hearing this is slightly disconcerted, but doesn’t fret as he knows that he will accept in the long run. In a moment of calm contemplation, the Earl reveals to his wife that he always knew that Ragnar would succeed in the west, but at the cost of the Earl’s men losing faith in him. It’s a pretty standard feeling for men of this stature. If someone else comes up and does a better job than you, odds are they are going to take over eventually. He even goes so far to state that Ragnar reminds him of himself when he was younger: ambitious, restless and head strong. Great men are the type who can never settle for what they have, and feel a need to continue moving forward, not stay stagnant in place. The Earl knows this, and that is the main reason he has been hounding Ragnar. On a side note, I find it hilarious that the old man that the Earl promised his daughter to is still able to bang her nightly, and make jokes about how he feels he has thoroughly impregnated her but putting money on a son. Her listless and lax approach to the banging is quite a highlight in terms of sheer comedy.
The Earl wakes up the next morning and we are shown that he has actually now accepted Ragnar’s challenge. Ragnar, still injured from last week’s attack, makes his way to the Earl’s chosen place of battle, and they are surrounded by everyone in anticipation for the fight. I am going to take this opportunity to let you all know that my battle hard on was in full effect at this precise moment. I know for a fact that the Vikings invaded Greece a long time ago, and now I am certain that one of my ancestors must have bedded one, as my heart beats this fast and this powerful for almost nothing else. The sheer feeling of excitement and the temperature at which my blood boils is ridiculous. But I digress. Moving on. The battle has begun and Ragnar goes toe to toe with the Earl in an engagement of pride and honor. Neither one being at 100% as Ragnar is still injured and the Earl is pushing the old age landmark, they swing and strike at each other with pained ferocity. Both being men of honor, they do not show each other quarter, but give themselves nothing but the utmost respect. After a long and hard fought battle, Ragnar looks to be defeated, but at the last minute, he battles back and slashes the Earl across his back so hard that you can literally see the text of “fuck…that hurt” escaping the Earl’s lips. The Earl, finally defeated, lies on the ground as Rangar makes his way to him. Ragnar, always admitting that he was a great man, slices the Earl’s wrist in a move that is accepted and encouraged by the Earl himself, as the way to Valhalla is paved with battle blood. The Earl’s wife, does not feel all that great in seeing her husband die, gets real emotional and asks why Ragnar is doing that. The Earl, not dead yet, says to leave him as it is a glorious death, and states that he will feast and drink with their lost sons in Valhalla. He closes his eyes , and Ragnar tells him Odin has come for him. With a last look, the Earl drifts off and awaits his trip to the golden halls. In a move that literally had me rolling in tears, the Earl’s Iago, declares that Ragnar should be arrested, and in a motion of pure fuckawesomeness, Rollo proceeds to bury an axe directly into that fucker’s chest. Rollo’s face is all messed up from the torture he received at this asshole’s hands, and gets the last laugh as his dead body drops to the ground, and I cannot sing enough praises for this move. A twist that I didn’t see coming either, was that after seeing Rollo murder that bastard, the late Earl’s wife proceeds to nullify one of the last orders made by her husband, and guts the ever loving shit out of the old man married to her daughter, while the daughter looks on in hidden glee. It was absolutely amazing and something I had been hoping would happen. I didn’t think it would be her to do it, but she did it, and I loved it.
It is at this point now, that everyone begins to chant “Hail Lord Ragnar”, and he is brought to the throne (I am not sure if it is officially a throne, but I’m calling it one), he sits down with Lagertha at his side, and takes over the ruling of the band of Vikings. Everyone swears allegiance to him, along with a new character introduced, who much like our Viking Druid, I was unable to catch his name, but he has since taken over Erik’s position of one of my favorite characters. An old man, but who’s heart beats hard and strong for battle, requests to be taken on the next raid with Ragnar and his men. Being old, Ragnar declines him at first, respectfully of course, until he hears his story. All of his friends, family, and warrior brothers have all died and gone to Valhalla, while naught a single blade has touched him, as he is a fine warrior. He requests to be sent to battle, so he can die a warrior’s death before being brought to the golden halls of Valhalla. Ragnar, hearing the old man’s tale, asks the crowd if he should be allowed to join, and in a moving scene of togetherness, the entire group decrees that he should be allowed to join the raids. The old man, being overcome with happiness and stoic resolve, thanks Ragnar and proceeds to prepare himself. These actions all in turn bring us to another moving scene in which Ragnar gives the Earl a full on Viking burial. Stating to his wife and the Earl’s wife that he was a great man, and he honors great men, but he will not start the pyre himself.This whole scene is literally made by the fact that Floki, is the only one jumping with glee and joy as they set the fire to the Earl’s burial ship. Praise really needs to be given to his performance as he literally has made this character his own. From the little touches like constantly being on edge, to the fact that he was dragged in laughing when he was declaring the battle request to the Earl, he really makes you believe he is slightly crazy, and I love it.
After the funeral, the late Earl’s wife proceeds to try and flee town with her daughter as most likely they will be shunned. However, in steps Rollo and lets her know she will not need to run away, and he will vouch for her, and he knows Ragnar will not touch them. However, in a scene of absolute foreboding and foreshadowing, Rollo proceeds to ask her if she would like to be married to another Earl, to which she replies, “ Ragnar will not have me, as he is married.” Rollo, showing a little bit of gumph, tells her he didn’t mean Ragnar, but himself. Could we see a family blood feud? Only Steve Harvery may be able to let us know what the survey says on that….but it is most likely a huge yes.We also get a very awesome scene with Athelstan in which he asks everyone what Ragnarok is, which if you don’t know, is the Viking apocalypse. The Vikings let him know through a mixture of story and hallucinogenic herbs, detailing a vivid scene of destruction and the death of everything. Really nice touch on the flip flop of Athelstan’s Christian beliefs, and the Vikings beliefs. The episode ends with the English King that Ragnar previously raided becoming angry at his commander and throwing him into a pit of snakes (Raider’s? Anyone?) He states how he is not forgiving and will be ready for Ragnar should he ever return. The scene leading into next week’s episode shows so much battle and chaos that I fucking cannot wait. It has also been announced that the show has been picked up for a second season, and I could not be happier. I was hoping that it would not end with just one season, and Arthur now is a very happy man for knowing it will not. Now, until next week my Vikings! For Odin! For Ragnar! And for Asgard!!!
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